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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Non-Everyjoe Tuesday: Children of the Corn Edition

So this week feels like the first time in quite a while I don't have an Everyjoe article to share, but instead I'm going to share something else with you, which should terrify you.

A social psychologist went to a high school, to talk about freedom of speech, and discovered that the kids coming up are, if anything, much much worse than the current crop of spoiled fascist brats at the universities.

I mean seriously, they sound like the fucking Children of the Corn.  The way the students are described as acting, it's like something out of a horror movie where a town's kids have been replaced with hive-consciousness pod-people.

Fuck's sake.

Things for free thought in the west are going to get far far worse, before they get better, unless some radical change happens.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Oversize + H&H's Beverwyck

Monday, 23 November 2015

How Good is Dark Albion? Look at How it Wrecked Someone Who Despises Me!

I already mentioned that Dark Albion has had pretty well universal praise in all legitimate circles. But just how great is it really?  What about the illegitimate circles, the total cunts who despise me?   I mean obviously, no matter how good anything I do is, they'll just hate on it, like they did my previous also-good work?

Or maybe not.  I just got to watch someone spend a couple of weeks frantically committing himself to a Swine's worst nightmare.  This guy is from the somethingawful-related 'your dungeon is suck' website that despises the OSR, D&D, and 'grognards', and me and a few other OSR guys in particular (aside from myself, mostly Zak Smith and James Raggi, but they've also attacked Tenkar and several others), and he had written a horribly slanderous review of Arrows of Indra prior to this.  So of course, to keep up his pathetic second-hand fame of being popular among his goon-buddies by connecting himself to (attacking) my success, he made loud overtures about how he was going to review Dark Albion too when it came out, to make fun of how awful it was bound to be and how horrible I am.

And that's how he got roped into a multi-part review where it becomes blatantly obvious that he likes the book. He had started from the strategy of picking my book apart with a fine-toothed comb (to cement his ridiculous midget-fame as the expert-reviewer of his shithole of hangout), and so it was impossible for him to back down.  Yet he couldn't just lie about the material either because he would be found out; and he couldn't quit because then it'd be clearly admitting that the game is good.

So what did he do instead? He wrote pages and pages and pages where he desperately tried to cast the book in the least favorable light possible, and instead ends up highlighting everything about it, and it becomes obvious that his attempts to criticize the book are hysterical nitpicking and frantic grasping at straws while he's spending the rest of the time desperately reminding himself that he's not supposed to find this book cool because it will ruin him.

Fuck, that was fun.

No, I'm not going to link it, because shit-head included private information about me and of course his review is full of ridiculous overcompensating with personal and general insults that often veer into hate-speech, but if you really want to find it I'm sure you can.  Point is, he ends up giving it 5.5 out of 10.  Let that sink in: one of the people who despises me most, from one of the most infamously rabid OSR-hating websites dedicated to ruining me, in what is clearly an incredibly biased effort to defame me and my product, is extremely reluctantly forced to give it 5.5 out of 10 because it would have otherwise made it too obvious to give it anything less.

THAT is how good Dark Albion is.


Currently Smoking: Castello 4K Canadian + Image Latakia

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Traveller Campaign Update: I Don't Want to Live in This Imperium Anymore Edition

The PCs started the session happy to be back on the run chased by the entire Imperium.  That was after, at the end of the last session, the PCs took the most secret, guantanamo-bay style political prison the Imperium had, and did this:

They also now had absolute confirmation that the Ancient known as Grandfather Paradox was living inside one of the team's mind.  Which is a bit like this guy:

Like, right after regeneration. So occasional bursts of utility mixed with long periods of unconsciousness and babbling incoherence.

They also still had to break out one of their members, "Dr." Jones, who had been taken to an Even More Secret Compound (also inside the hull of a ruined ship, because the Imperium will never be accused of great creativity) under suspicion of being a Zhodani spy.  He was busy being examined by the very limits of what probe-technology could discover:

While they were rescuing, Insane Grandfather-PC led the other half of the party to a secret treasure horde of impressive Ancient items, including disintegrator guns, a strange radioactive device that Grandfather claimed is essential, and transparent super-armor space suits that are vastly beyond anything the Imperium has in terms of survivability, wearability, and resistance.  One of the team, "the professor" insists on wearing his with nothing underneath.

The PCs, having generally adopted an "I don't give a shit about anything anymore" attitude, get out of the system mere hours behind the Imperial fighters chasing them, which was not hard given they're flying the Traveller Universe's equivalent of the Millennium Falcon.  They head to the nearest most lawless planet they could find, which is a radioactive wasteland on the surface populated entirely in underwater dome-colonies.

They manage to stay just long enough to sell the gold they got in the Ancient haul for a ridiculously good price (all the native gold on this world being radioactive), make the most essential repairs and stocks they need for the Starhunter, and  buy every last weapon they can find in this rapidly-decaying TL7 shithole.

Next, with the Navy still right on their tail, they hightail it out of the Imperium, into Vargr pirate space, seeking the planet where the Master is soon to be regenerated.  If they can't stop him, he'll kill every Ancient-uplifted race he can find (including humanity) and then conquer the Galaxy.  At least, if you believe Grandfather.

At this point though, the majority of the PCs have come to the conclusion that the only number of acceptable living Ancients in the galaxy is precisely zero.  If they can cut it, the plan is to murder both the Master and Grandfather.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario + Gawith's Virginia Flake

Saturday, 21 November 2015

10th Anniversary Classic Rant: The Basics of Pipe Smoking

Its hard to believe, but to the best of my recollection, I have gone a full three years of near-daily writings on this blog without once having dedicated a blog entry to the basics of pipe-smoking!

So I figure, what better moment to do so than on International Pipe Smoking Day?

Ok, so the first thing you need is a pipe, obviously. There are tons of brands to choose from, and the best way to get one is to find a well-stocked local Tobacco shop. If you're in or around Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; or indeed anywhere in Western Canada, you couldn't do better than to go to Burlington's Tobacconist. Not everyone has a local tobacconist though, so if you haven't got that luxury I would recommend that you get a good online tobacconist. is an excellent choice.

I'm not going to go so far as to recommend a specific pipe, because there are many different kinds of pipe novices, suffice it to say that you could get a good pipe for anything from $50-100, and a really good pipe from $100-200 (there are several brands I might recommend at that range, but you couldn't go wrong with either a Stanwell or a Lorenzetti, two of my favourites at that range). If you're really strapped for cash, I'd recommend a Corncob (Missouri Meerschaum brand is the best), which might look a bit silly, but a $15-25 corncob smokes MUCH better than a $15-25 briar pipe, as a rule; so if your main concern is affordability, corncobs are the way to go.

You'll also need a pipe tool; its a little device that you use to tamp, empty and pinch tobacco in your pipe; simple pipe tools don't cost more than $3.

Next, you'll need some good tobacco. There are lots of blends and brands to choose from; the main thing is that you should avoid going for the "drug store" brands (the mass-produced chemical-laden junk you find in grocery stores or convenience stores) if ANY other option exists. Personally, I would rather not smoke than smoke Amphora or Captain Black or whatever; if you really have no where else to begin go with either of those, but as soon as you can switch to some higher-quality tobacco. There are a few brands (like Balkan Sasieni, Dunhill, or Erinmore) that are usually not hard to find even in non-specialty stores, so that's always a good option. In the states, Barking Dog is also a good option.

Some more guidelines for finer tobaccos: There are basically three types of tobacco you can purchase. The first are aromatics; in most of the world these are by far the most popular. They are made of what is called "Cavendish" tobacco, which is really virginia or burley that has been treated with various essences so that it tastes and smells like vanilla, chocolate, cherry, or other sweet aromatic essences when being smoked. Of the three, aromatics are the most common, and the nicest smelling, but the flavour usually isn't very much of actual tobacco, and the quality varies immensely; a lot of these tobaccos end up tasting like chemicals or cough syrup.

The second is Virginia. These tobaccos are pure tobacco and taste like it, but NOT like a cigarette. Cigarettes don't actually taste like tobacco at all, they taste of the chemical sludge that they're treated with. Plus they're very low-quality virginia tobacco. Pipe tobacco that's Virginia will have a natural woodsy flavour that's very nice, with a bit of natural sweetness too. Sometimes Virginias are flavoured with perique, a type of tobacco from Louisiana that adds a touch of spiciness to the smoke. I like these very much, myself. One note of warning, however: Virginia tobaccos pack a punch, they're heavy; I usually don't smoke one on an empty stomach. I'd recommend in this area Dunhill's Elizabethan, Escudo, Ashton III, or Peter Stockebbye's Bull's Eye Flake.

The third choice are tobaccos with Latakia. Latakia is a turkish tobacco that's been treated, it is dark black and has a peaty flavour to it. These are mixed with Virginia and Burley to produce what's called an "English" blend; or they're mixed with Virginia and other "oriental" tobaccos (from the balkans or turkey, usually) to produce what are called "Oriental" or "Balkan" blends. 
These, English and Oriental tobaccos, are by far my favourite. They taste like tobacco, have a rich range of flavour and an intricacy that you feel as the pipe is smoked. They are always relatively high-quality. The ones I'd most recommend are Balkan Sasieni, Dunhill 965, Esoterica's Penzance, or anything by GL Pease.

Finally, packing a lighting a pipe: for most new pipe smokers, the biggest obstacle to enjoying a pipe is learning how to pack and light it. This is a cause of frustration, and most people who quit pipe smoking do so because of issues related to this.
Learning how to pack a pipe takes patience and practice. Over time, you'll be able to pack a pipe quickly and in most cases it'll smoke well all the way down, and you won't use more than 2 matches. But even the most experienced pipe smoker has occasions where he has a pipe get plugged, or has to use a mountain of matches to relight. So don't be too hard on yourself; remember that lighting the pipe is part of the fun, and relighting it can be just as fun.

First select your tobacco. Note that some tobaccos are ready to fill into the pipe from the get-go, while others require "rubbing out" or "breaking up", when they come in flakes, coin-cuts, wedges, etc. Once your tobacco is good, loose, and ready, you start by taking a pinch of tobacco between your fingers and stuffing it gently into your pipe. Tamp it down with your finger, but not too hard: "the hand of a child". This should fill up about a third of the bowl; if it doesn't, add some more.

The next third you fill the same way but pressing down harder: "the hand of a woman". And finally the last third, right to the top, you fill with the "hand of a man", pressing down fairly hard. The end result should be that air will be able to flow through your pipe, without the tobacco being too loose.

Take a few puffs on your pipe before lighting it: it should feel like sucking through a straw. If it feels like you're caving in your cheeks trying to draw, you've packed it too tight: you need to empty the whole thing and try again.
On the other hand, if you hear a whistling noise, you've packed it too light; push down relatively hard with your finger, and probably fill in a bit more.

When you're satisfied that the pipe is ready to light, take a first match, light it, let it burn past the chemical tip, then hold it over the pipe (not touching the pipe) when the pipe is in your mouth; draw in breaths, making the flame come down over the tobacco. Circle around with the match, try to get every area lit up; then put out the match. Then you get your pipe tool. Tamp down hard with the pipe tool; the tobacco (which might have fluffed up while you were lighting it) should press down. You want to be sure the tobacco is always kept tight in the bowl, otherwise it'll go out.

After tamping down, your pipe will likely have gone out; take a second match and again light it, drawing down hard; the first match should have created a layer of ash on the surface of the tobacco; now you want to light the tobacco that's under that layer; the topmost layer of ash will insulate the smoke and allow it to keep burning. As you light, there should be a lot of smoke coming out of your mouth; make sure to use a lot of the match and get it really well-lit, then you won't have to be relighting it again in a few minutes.

Then you can sit back and smoke. As you go along, you're going to need to tamp down on your pipe every little while, to keep it well-packed as it burns. From now on, when you tamp, keep your pipe in your mouth and draw softly as you're making the tamping motions, that way the tamping won't end up putting out the pipe.

Again, it takes a long while of practice to get a really good rhythm for smoking a pipe, don't be discouraged at the beginning. Remember to keep practicing, to always smoke your pipe down to the bottom (though you don't have to do it all in one sitting, you can smoke a pipe over several hours), to always clean your pipe after each use (with pipe cleaners, of course), and to experiment with many different brands of tobacco, keeping track of which you like and which you didn't, until you find the ones that are right for you.

Smoke, and enjoy.


(Originally posted February 20, 2008)

Friday, 20 November 2015

Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos Will Include Material on Elves

So, first, some good news: Cults of Chaos, the supplement book for Dark Albion is well on the way. In fact, the majority of the writing is finished.

I've listened carefully to some of the Dark Albion fans as to what they wanted to see most, and this led me to add an appendix to Cults of Chaos that will provide several pages of detail on Albion's Elves.

Elves in Albion are a bit of a mix between darker faerie stories and aliens from abductee accounts.  Creepy, inhuman, decadent, alien of thought, incredibly powerful.   In Cults of Chaos you'll get more details about the ancient history of when the Elves ruled Albion, where they live now, where they still show up and how, and what they do when they do show up. You'll also get some straightforward old-school info: encounter types and sizes, Elven equipment and powers.   Info also on elven magic items, and changelings.

This on top of the main material in the book, covering how to make your own Chaos Cult, and tables and types of Mutations.

Stay tuned, Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos will be coming to you soon, probably early 2016.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Bent Billiard + Image Latakia

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Why You Want Me Consulting!

"And let me say publicly what I said to the good Pundit privately. This book is a hundred times better than it would have otherwise been thanks to his input. The authorial voice is definitely mine, but his influence can be found in dozens of little things, sprinkled throughout, and they help bring the thing to life. We didn't always agree, but I count his input as invaluable. Thank you, sir."  - Joseph Bloch, author, "The Golden Scroll of Justice"

If you're writing an RPG, setting, or supplement, you want someone with proven chops that can help bring out the best in it. Who won't bullshit or flatter you, and will put in the time to examine your product carefully, and give creative contributions for bettering it. Not to mention someone with contacts and experience in the hobby scene to get you other help or information you might need.

So, if you're working on something, and want the Pundit on board, send me an email!


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Solitario Horn + Gawith's Navy Flake

Now Out: The Golden Scroll of Justice!

This book has just come out, and let me tell you, it's good! I should know, because I helped make it.

That's right, "The Golden Scroll of Justice" is a project I consulted on, and I think it turned out real well. It is a top-notch try at introducing Chinese fantasy to OSR games.  Officially for Adventures Dark & Deep, it would be very easy to apply to any OSR game.  And (thanks in part to me) you'll find it has a more authentic Chinese-fantasy feel to it than other old school products before.  No 'mishmash of china and japan from bad tv shows' here; Golden Scroll is based on Chinese mythology, fantasy, and a strong influence from Chinese Wuxia.  No Samurai anywhere to be found, thank Buddha!

So yeah, if you like stuff like Arrows of Indra, you should totally go check out Golden Scroll.  I'll note that I don't get any royalties nor was I contractually obliged to make this promotion.  I'm saying this because I genuinely believe its a good product.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Bent Billiard + Image Latakia